Monday, February 8, 2010

Refugees


I’m not exactly known as the neatest person on the planet.

I’m probably in the lower 50% in terms of laziness.

…or should that be in the “top 50% of laziness”?

You get the point.

I’m not particularly anal about cleanliness and order.

However.

However, this is a bit much, even for messy me.

If Robin Williams were to visit, he would most likely go into one of his voices from Mrs. Doubtfire: “Yes, dahlings, we were going for the Tres Chic Cambodian Refugee Look here.” On dropping by unannounced, Martha Stewart might direct her fan club to “Note the faaabulous folding bamboo furniture that can be thrown on the back of a water buffalo at a moment’s notice.”

Or maybe we’re White Russian aristocrats in flight from the encroaching Communists. Camping out in someone’s attic with all of our remaining possessions massed around us in piles.

Stop being so dramatic, Kim.

It’s only temporary.

Still. I’m not as young as I used to be. Things aren’t as easy. I need a little order.

I can’t find anything.

It’s strangely unsettling.

Okay, that part was written as we were living through dismantling the apartment where Katherine, Jay, James, and I were all staying. Some of the stuff from their place at Casa Colina was stacked around the walls. Some of the youngest sister’s belongings that made it to California, but not into the dorm room, were crammed into nooks and crannies. It was a danger zone of random disorder.

Since then, we’ve experienced The-Never-Ending-Move. The bamboo is officially unfolded in it's new home. Katherine, Jay, and James are currently ensconced in the historic hotel where the Munchkins actually did stay during the filming of “Oz.” It hasn’t been renovated since. Still, it has its quirky charm. AND it’s better than attempting fit into the Munchkin Manor (my husband’s designation) with Mimi while the main house is being painted by Jay and the world’s greatest friends.

As my long-suffering son-in-law says, the past week has been a game of Tetris. The tenants weren’t out of Jay and Katherine’s house until the night before the official moving day. The lady who was renting the storage area that goes with the house wasn’t out until the night of the move. As a result, Jay had to fill up my storage area with their stuff from Westwood. I had the movers leave about half of my belongings in the back yard because they wouldn’t fit into the Manor. It’s been a fascinating exercise in creative storage. Fitting a lot into a little.

Then, The Pod was delivered. This was like opening a time-capsule from the day when Jay and Katherine’s picture-perfect life in Malibu was abruptly interrupted by tragedy. There’s also a storage unit somewhere that is yet to be unveiled.

So, during this past cold and rainy week, we’ve moved and moved and moved again. Sometimes it’s felt like we’re moving around in an unending circle.

Unfortunately, we’ve been having serious miscommunications with the Gas Company. For almost a week, I have lived with no heat, no hot water, no oven/stove, and no washer/dryer. Thankfully, I finally got TV and internet.

It’s been in the low 40’s at night. Bizarrely, it is much colder inside the house than outside. The first night, I slept in my Uggs, down jacket, and fleece bathrobe, with a pashmina around my neck, husband’s hat on my head, and gloves.

Now I’m getting tough and hardy. Pioneer woman. Last night I skipped the hat, gloves, and Uggs. I’m getting used to living in the 19th Century.

Except for one thing: you have to really need to go potty, as it’s like sitting bare-bottomed on an iceberg. Still, I suppose it’s better than an outhouse.

I finally had a complete meltdown with the Gas Company yesterday. (Loud voice and dramatic crying on the phone.) But this morning, as I type with numb un-nimble fingers, I realize that this experience has been a gift.

For over a week, I have been given just a tiny tiny taste of what it must feel like to be a refugee. To be displaced, disoriented, disempowered. At the mercy of others. Continuously cold and dirty. Clinging to bags of meaningless belongings. Confused and lost. Longing to go back home.

It has been a good experience for me. I have taken so many things in my life for granted. I think it’s important to be shaken up every now and then. I realize how easily we become used to our little creature comforts, our neat routines, our ways of doing things. This has forced me to think about the people who don’t live the way I am privileged to live. There are so many who exist in the Land of Nightmares rather than living the American Dream.

The Displaced Ones.

Just look around.

I see them every day here in the City of Angels, carting their meager bags from corner to corner.

Looking for someplace warm…a refuge from the elements.

I see the Haitian people seeking refuge in tents because their homes and lives were destroyed.

But I also see the beautiful, smiling eyes of a little boy who arrived yesterday from Rwanda, country of refugees. Embraced by his new parents, he is welcomed into our faith family by a circle of love.
He is finally home.* 

It occurs to me that in many ways, we are all just aliens trying to get a visa…

nomads on a pilgrimage…

strangers in a strange land…

Refugees trying to find our way back home.

***************



“We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow…” (I Chronicles 29:15)
“And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth… If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11: 13-16)

5 comments:

  1. We lost our home to Hurricane Frances in 2004. It was my eye opener. I learned so very much from that experience. I would not take it back.
    Things will settle soon. In the meantime..God is all around us.
    xo, misha
    You can read about our hurricane adventure here, should you want to!

    http://frommyfrontporchinthemountains.blogspot.com/2009/09/frances.html

    just copy and paste

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post!

    It's colder inside my house than it is outside as well--it's because all these adorably charming vintage houses in California were built without insulation!!! Oh, yes. They sure were. And you probably don't have down spouts for rain either!! My house is the same way. Drives me a little nuts too, but as with all things, THIS TO SHALL PASS. You guys are doing the best that you can do and that is great! And we are all rooting for you, from near and afar. Did you read Nienie today? Her post is similar--one day this will just be a memory.

    Hang in there. And if you need some help, let me know. And, I'm actually trying to move back to Culver City myself--I should have never moved from there--I love it so much! So we may be neighbors soon!

    Loves!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kim, Another wonderful post! I hope you know how much love that we faithful readers have for you. Each one of our circumstances is different, but we all have so much to learn from you. Thank you ten thousand times for being brave enough to be one of our teachers!
    You inspire me beyond measure.
    Marianne (also known as http://theretardedmother.blogspot.com/)

    ReplyDelete
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Hi!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write.

It helps to know we're not alone.